Monthly Archives: May 2008

Arimatsu Shibori Festival in 2008 Information

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     There will be a festival named Arimatsu Shibori Matsuri in Arimatsu, Midori-ku, Nagoya on June 7 and 8. Recently many people have visited to my blog looking for information of the festival. Since I wrote about it last June and September, if you retrieve the festival with the search engine, this page’s title also comes up as a result.
     That’s why I paste the information of guide in English tour at the festival below. I’m going to join in the tour. I may be able to see you there!

– AGGN English Speaking Tour –

1:00 PM, June 7 (Sat.) & June 8 (Sun.), 2008
The ticket gate of Meitetsu Arimatsu Station

Aichi Goodwill Guides Network (AGGN) will offer you an English guided tour of Arimatsu Shibori Festival, one hour’s walking tour of the town of Arimatsu, famous for its 400-year tradition of Shibori (tie-dyeing). Our tour includes a visit to a traditional Shibori merchant house with a splendid Japanese garden and a tea ceremony room. You will also take a look at dashi (festival floats) with mechanical puppets.

Other than our guided tour,
Shibori sales
Shibori workshop (admission needed) and more in the festival !

***No guide fees are required.
***Advance registration would be appreciated.
***Access to Arimatsu: 40 min. from Nagoya Station by local train on Meitetsu Main Line

Aichi Goodwill Guides Network
TEL & FAX :
0561-75-6977
E-mail :
guide-desk@aggn.jp
URL : http://www.aggn.jp/
Aichi Goodwill Guides Network (AGGN) is a non-profit organization established in 1999.

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A Rose House

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     There is a house which I’ve been interested in near Hoshigaoka. It’s a rose house, which is covered with many beautiful roses in the middle of May every year. In the evening it’s even lighted up! I thought it was a shop or something first, but it’s a just private house. 

     One evening I happened to pass over the street where the rose house was by car. The house covered roses was being silhouetted against the dark because it was illuminated by some lights. That was spectacular! Then I remembered that a friend of mine had mentioned that she was an acquaintance of the inhabitants of the rose house. 

     That’s why I asked her to take me to the rose house after a tai chi class, where she and I are classmates, last Tuesday. She was willing to comply with my request.  

     The lady who lives in the rose house kindly welcomed us in spite of an abrupt visit. It was very cool and quiet inside the gate, and sweet smell of roses was wafting around. Surprisingly those pink roses which are covering over the house are growing from only one tree. According to her, her husband has taken care of the roses for many years.   

     When I said to the lady I had thought her house was a restaurant or something first, she said smilingly, “I often find young couples sitting in the terrace since they take my house for a restaurant or a café.”

     It was really hot that day when my friend and I visited. Probably it was nearly 30 degrees outside. It was, however, very cool in the rose house. According to the lady, she used a heater at night before the day despite being 30 degrees during the daytime.

     After having a wonderful time at the rose house, my friend invited me to her house. She made a delicious coffee and served me some wonderful sweets bought at a famous cake shop named Brownie in Meito-ku, Nagoya. I enjoyed chatting with her over coffee and cake. Ah! What a wonderful day I had!

Yanaka

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      Last Saturday there was a Buddhist memorial service called “Shiju-ku-nichi” for one of my family member who passed away at the beginning of April in Tokyo and I attended it.

     “Shiju-ku-nichi” means the 49th day. In Japanese Buddhism, the soul of a human is believed to stay for 49 days in the earth after his or her death. It’s said that the soul of the deceased goes up through seven stages to heaven and that it stays at each stage for seven days. 

     Those 49 days are not only for the deceased but also for his or her family. People who feel deep sorrow at their family member’s death get over the shock through the days.

     The “Shiju-ku-nichi” memorial service was held at Shogyo-in temple in Yanaka, Tokyo, which is a subsidiary of Zuirin-ji temple.

     Zuirin-ji temple is the largest among the temples in Yanaka area, established by Saint Nisshin, who had been a teacher of Tycoon Ieyasu Tokugawa, in 1591. It has a big graveyard in which some famous people’s graves such as Monto Ohkubo and Kyosai Kawanabe.

     Monto Ohkubo built a modern waterworks called Kanda Josui in Tokyo by order of Ieyasu Tokugawa, and Kyosai Kawanabe is a painter who was active from the end of Edo period to the beginning of Meiji period. Kyosai Kawanabe’s grave is taken care by my family temple; Shogyo-in. Kyosai is famous for his paintings of hell, monsters and ghosts. 

     After the “Shiju-ku-nichi” memorial service, I went to a sushi restaurant named Noike with my family in Yanaka.

     In the area, great deal of Edo Japan atmosphere remains still now. I saw many tourists looking around the area with maps that day. I’d like to visit the area someday soon without wearing black.

Global Friendship Party 3

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      Two of my friends hold parties for Japanese who don’t have many opportunities to speak English in spite of studying it. It’s Global Friendship Party and the third one was held at a coffee shop named Calm in Meito-ku, Nagoya last Thursday on 22. There’s a rule in each party. It’s speaking in English!  

     There were about 20 people in the party including three people from foreign countries such as Estonia, Belarus, and France. Since the Estonian lady has joined in all of the three parties, I know her. It was, however, the first time to see the Belarusian lady and the French man for me.

     The Estonian lady acted very well as the master of ceremony. I think she’s good at presiding. She wore a very pretty suit on which beautiful flowers were painted that day, and looked very nice in it.

     Since the French man mentioned that he used to go for a drink before dinner in France, I asked him that he drank French wine at bars. And he replied, “Nooooooo!” According to him, wine is drunk when people have dinner usually at home.

     When you eat out in Japan, you can easily find many good restaurants which serve cheap and delicious food. But it seems that people usually pay at least 3000 yen each person for dinner when they eat out in France. That’s why most people have dinner home. He said that he had beer or strong alcohol at bars. And I’ve heard that Japanese culture has become popular in France, but it seems that Japanese food has not spread yet.

     The Belarusian lady was really beautiful. She has a nice figure. According to her, her both parents used to athletes. She didn’t say but I think she must do something sports. She told me a story about a mysterious lake.

     There is a lake in Belarus. In the legend, it saved Belarusians from the German invasion at the war. The lake is very deep, but it doesn’t look so and is hidden behind forests. So troops are trapped in the lake when they are trying to entering by force without knowing about it…

     I was able to listen to interesting stories from a Japanese man, who is a member of JAICA, at the party as well. I had a nice time again. The next party will be held on July 15. I’m going to take part in it so far.

Pigeons…

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      The other day I had to fight against a couple of pigeons in the morning. They tried to build a nest in the balcony of my apartment. I had to stop them from doing it.

     I would allow them to make a nest if I lived on the first floor or in a house. I live, however, on the fifth floor of the building which is five stories high. If pigeons live in my balcony, the people who live in the downstairs may be bothered by their droppings. You know, most Japanese hang out the washing and bedclothes. And whenever they come, my balcony becomes very dirty as well.

     Those pigeons wouldn’t give up and tried to stay on at the balcony. Yet both of them flew away to find materials for making a nest and food. While they were gone, I checked the balcony. I tried to look under an outdoor unit of the air conditioner, which it seems that they liked, but I couldn’t see inside well. I took some photos with my cellphone, being inserted under the outdoor unit. They hadn’t completed their nest yet.

     That’s why I decided to clean it up and to seal off the gap under the outdoor unit before they came back. I saw something which looked like a pile of straw in the recesses. Since it’s too narrow to get at for me, I used a pair of tongs and picked the pile little by little.

     Look! It was a small haystack! I was very surprised to see it, wondering when the pigeons gathered such grass. I didn’t know that I had to be more surprised at that time…

     Anyway, I began putting that dried grass into a plastic bag. I finished filling it up, when I found tiny eggs remain. There were very small five eggs on the floor. I was dumbfounded.

“Oh, no! They’ve already had eggs! I destroyed their nest! What shall I do?”

     But soon calmness came back to me. Wait. For pigeon’s eggs, they were too small. I had seen pigeon’s eggs before. It’s white and a little bit smaller than hen’s egg. Those five eggs, however, were not white. They were light brown and speckled, and each one has diameter of only about 1.5 cm! Ah! They were sparrows’!

     It seems that the pigeons plundered from a nest where a sparrow couple had lived. But I hadn’t known that sparrows were there at all until that day. You know, you can’t throw birds eggs away without permission. There’s a law for preservation of wildlife in Japan.

     So I called a public office and asked what to do. The expert said, “Put all stuff back where it was.” I replied, “I can’t because the place is too narrow to do that!” And he suggested putting some dried grasses into a cardboard box and then putting those eggs on it. Luckily I had some small cardboard boxes and I was able to follow the direction.

     After a while, I took a look at the box in the balcony, when I saw a pigeon sitting in the box. I wondered if the pigeon couple was going to raise sparrows’ children. But that night when I checked the box again, it was overturned and the eggs were broken on the floor…The eggs were too tiny to be sat by a pigeon, I think. And of course, those pigeons’ purpose to come to my balcony was having their own kids.

     Next morning, I cleaned the balcony, feeling sorry for those eggs and their parents. Since then I’ve been fighting against pigeons. I don’t know whether they are the same ones, but at least a couple of pigeons come to my apartment every day and try to built their sweet home…

Global Friendship Party 1 & 2

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      Time flies! (I think I always say that….) Today is May 22! The next month is just around the corner before I know it…Actually, a family member of mine, who had lived in Tokyo, passed away in the beginning of last month. I’ve been busy since then. I’m in Tokyo every weekend because I have many things to do there… 

     Anyway, I’m going to write about a party named Global Friendship Party today. Two ladies, who are my friends, have started to hold the party for Japanese people who study English. Although many Japanese people study English, they don’t have many opportunities to speak English. “If there are not many places and opportunities to speak English, we should make them,” they thought and started the project last March.

     So far three parties were held and I took part in all of them. In fact, the third one was today. It was held at a café in Meito-ku, Nagoya, and about 20 Japanese and three foreigners: an Estonian lady, a Belarusian lady, and a French man. The organizers always invite at least three foreigners to each party. 

     I’ll write about the two previous parties here. The first one was held at a pub in Fushimi on March 15. There were about 15 Japanese and a British-Russian lady, an Estonian lady, and a Ghanaian lady in it. We enjoyed chattering, over delicious food and drink, and also played games. It was very nice for me to meet many new people and to listen to those foreigners’ about their countries. I had a really great time.

     And the second one was held at the same pub on April 23. There were about 15 Japanese, who were not all the same people as ones in the former party, and three foreigners: an Estonian lady, a Bangladeshi lady, whose folk costume was very fantastic, and a Russian boy. The party was very nice as well. I was able to meet new people again and to listen to very interesting stories from them, especially the conversation with the Russian boy was nice.

     He studies about Ryu Murakami, an author, at a university in Nagoya. According to him, Ryu Murakami is quite popular in Russia and is called Japanese Dostoevsky. I liked Ryu Murakami’s works when I was a junior high student. I hadn’t known the author was so popular in Russia until that day.

     Just as I was leaving the party, he came to said to me, “You look like a Russian politician named Hakamada.” I checked the politician after coming back home. I was relieved. Hakamada is female! I thought the politician was a man. According to Wikipedia, Irina Hakamada was born of a Japanese communist in exile and a Jewish woman in Russia, and is a politician in the right wing. I’m wondering whether I look like her.

     Anyway, I’m lucky to have such great opportunities to meet many people and to speak English. Thank to the two of my friends. I’m going to write about today’s party someday soon.

PB Products Win Popularity in Japan

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     I found an interesting article on food of private brand in the newspaper this morning. According to the article, it seems that food of private brand (private label) has become popular in Japan recently. I’m trying to translate the article into English.

     What people buy at grocery stores has changed dramatically since that day. “I don’t buy processed food anymore because I don’t know what include in it,” said an office worker, who is in her 30’s and a mother of a little girl. She hasn’t bought frozen food since the “gyoza shock”, which was an incident that some Japanese people fell ill after biting some gyoza – dumplings made in China last January. It was come to light that those dumplings were tainted with insecticides later.

     She puts vegetables into her shopping basket instead. Organic vegetables, which have the source properly, are comparatively high price, but she chooses them. She used to buy dumplings before, she’s, however, made at home without buying processed ones since the incident. Yet she’s afraid and says, “Other vegetables as ingredients may be also tainted with insecticides. Probably I have other extra additives. It could be worse…” The gyoza shock made consumers defensive strongly. Their safe taste is forcing up prices of food, and which bears on husbandry.

     At Ito-Yokado, Japanese general merchandize store affiliated to SEVEN and i Holdings, the sales of frozen dumplings dropped down last February after the incident, while they got an increase in sales of 50% for ingredients of dumpling. They say, “Consumers want to have security and cooking at home is gradually taking root.”

     One of methods for practicing economy is using PB (private brand: private label). Merchandise of PB is usually cheaper than ones of national brands because they can hold down the cost of advertisement and development. “I always buy something of PB as they are cheaper.” said an office worker in his 30’s. He says he is a fan of “Top Value”, which is PB of AEON Co., Ltd, which is the largest retailer in Asia, and likes its retort pouch curry for 88 yen. The sale of PB of AEON was 27billion last year, which was a 20% increase. 

     Uny Co., Ltd, a chain of supermarkets in mainly Chubu area, Japan, which has a PB named e-price, developed a new private brand “UUCS” with its subsidiaries such as U-Store and Circle K Sunkus and started selling 29 items of snacks and bread in April. Those packages have names of famous Japanese brands that product them, and which is a strategy to appeal to consumers.

     We cannot say PB will safe and cheap forever. You know those Chinese dumplings were also PB of Co-op. Consumers don’t choose things by only their cost anymore.

     The other day, I saw many things of “Top Value”, which is PB of AEON, at Daiei, which has supported by AEON and other companies recently. Those PB products were put at the main aisles and appealed to customers. And I went to nearby Uny yesterday, where they also sold many PB products. I bought some of them: ramen, sesame seeds, sesame oils, and ketchup. They were definitely cheaper than the same things produced by national brands. Of course, I checked the sources and what were included before buying. As the article says, consumers don’t buy it because of its cheap price, I think. We should realize what to buy without being controlled by the mass media.